Carpenter to take leave of absence

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Republican state Rep. Blake Carpenter is taking a leave of absence from the Kansas Legislature to serve in the Kansas Air National Guard.

Carpenter, the House majority whip from Derby, will not serve in the House during the upcoming legislative session in 2022.

Carpenter, who plans to start his leave Jan. 3, recently became commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Air National Guard after completing officer training school.

Carpenter, who joined the National Guard in 2020, plans to return to his duties as a state lawmaker after completing his orders in early May.

“It is truly an honor to serve the residents of District 81 and represent them in our state capitol,” Carpenter said in a statement.

“I enjoy fighting for our freedoms and liberties,” he said. “I must now learn to fight in another kind of capacity.

“Once my orders are complete, I will resume representing the district and making sure government interference in our lives is limited.”

State law allows lawmakers to take a leave of absence with their replacement filled by precinct committee leaders.

A new law passed by the Legislature last year requires Carpenter to file paperwork with the secretary of state’s office when he returns to his legislative duties.

Carpenter has already filed to run for reelection to the House District 81 seat that he has represented since 2015.

He won his most recent election in 2020 with about 65% of the vote.

The House district covers a swath of Sedgwick County, including parts of Derby and Wichita.

“I sincerely hope the voters allow me to continue serving District 81, Kansas, and the United States in both my elected and military capacities,” Carpenter said.